True Potential? OnStar Updated With Fleet Management Service

With automotive connectivity kicking down the door to new sources of revenue, General Motors’ OnStar has already undergone a few changes since its debut in 1997 model-year Cadillacs. We’ve criticized some of the most recent ones, annoyed that GM is trying to utilize driving data to turn people into both master and slave. Last year, CEO Mary Barra said the automaker would expand into areas “that will generate revenue and profitability as we leverage the connectivity and then the ability to monetize data both in the vehicle and sharing it with other companies.”

While we can’t say we’re fond of her position, it’s likely to make the company heaps of cash. Tweaking automobiles to emit a constant stream of data back to headquarters does have its advantages, and businesses are, unsurprisingly, keen to capitalize on them. On Thursday, General Motors announced the launch of OnStar Vehicle Insights — a new telematics tool for fleet owners and operators.

The new management service seems cool, but the foundation it’s built upon might make you a bit uneasy. And it’s technically already inside your vehicle, assuming you own a GM product that’s less than five years old. You just have to pay to gain access. 

“We listened to our fleet customers’ feedback and have created a turnkey telematics solution,” explained Ed Peper, VP of GM Fleet. “OnStar Vehicle Insights helps simplify the fleet management process, allowing our fleet customers, large and small, to save time and money.”

Customers pay $15.99 per vehicle, per month, to unlock OnStar Vehicle Insights. Once opened, managers have immediate access to real-time data — including the vehicle’s current location, maintenance info, and driver performance (e.g. if they were speeding). General Motors claims there will be a “simplified performance dashboard that aggregates data and presents trends business might find helpful.” That suggests Vehicle Insights may not be aimed at the biggest and baddest road-going armadas, but a tool better suited for moderately-sized fleets.

It sounds rather similar to the fleet management tool Ford Smart Mobility cooked up in 2018, offering a reminder that GM is probably skimming your personal data already.  The company says Vehicle Insights uses embedded OnStar hardware and is available on most Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC vehicles built after 2014. Nothing needs to be installed; you just have to log in to see all the information General Motors could already access.

Additional features include remote access to vehicles, trip summaries, and performance summaries for drivers that actually scores them on how well they drove.

OnStar Vehicle Insights will undoubtedly be a handy tool for fleet operators that have a small office, rather than an entire floor, to themselves. We imagine the General will have quite a few takers. GM’ willingness to take and share data is helping it make serious inroads into alternative, data-focused businesses, but without assurances that it’s not just vacuuming everything up, we’re concerned the double-edged sword of connectivity is going to catch us in the face on the backswing.

shared from TTAC